Public Statement by Ismail Serageldin
Alexandria, 4 December-The following statement is attributable to the Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin:
"Recent press reports concerning the presence of the first Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in an exhibition in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina deserve a prompt and clear reply. Preliminary investigation determined that the book was briefly displayed in a showcase devoted to rotating samples of curiosities and unusual items in our collection. The book was never displayed alongside the Jewish Torah nor has it ever been stated that it is a holy book or the basis for a Jewish constitution. The book is a well-known 19th century fabrication to foment anti-Jewish feelings.
"The book was promptly withdrawn from public display, but its very inclusion showed bad judgment and insensitivity, and an internal administrative hearing is underway to determine whether further action is to be taken.
"The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is profoundly committed to its role as a center of learning and a place promoting tolerance, dialogue and understanding between peoples, cultures and civilizations. We are honored to work with distinguished international partners in promoting these universal ideals".
I have sent the following reply:
Dear Dr. Serageldin,
Thank you very much for this information. I commend you for your prompt and proper action regarding this unfortunate situation.
Would you please comment on the interview with Dr. Yousef Ziedan (who is named as the director of the manuscript museum at the Library of Alexandria) in Al Usbu', translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute and available online at http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD61903? According to this interview Dr. Ziedan said:
"When my eyes fell upon the rare copy of this dangerous book, I decided immediately to place it next to the Torah. Although it is not a monotheistic holy book, it has become one of the sacred [tenets] of the Jews, next to their first constitution, their religious law, [and] their way of life. In other words, it is not merely an ideological or theoretical book.
"Perhaps this book of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' is more important to the Zionist Jews of the world than the Torah, because they conduct Zionist life according to it� It is only natural to place the book in the framework of an exhibit of Torah [scrolls]."
He is also quoted as having made sarcastic, bizarre, and inaccurate statements about the Holocaust in this interview. Are the quotations in the interview correct and, if so, what is your position as Director of the Library on his comments? If the quotations misrepresent what he said, what is the source of the error?
I am putting your statement below [it's above in this post] on my weblog, PaleoJudaica and, if you have no objection, I would like also to post there your reply to my queries above.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Also, it appears that I misread the introduction to the MEMRI translation in my earlier posts here and here. Dr. Yousef Ziedan is director of the manuscripts museum at the new Library of Alexandria, not the director of the whole library. I apologize for the error.